Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Group opening Italian restaurant on Medical Mile

February 6, 2017
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Palio Grand Rapids interior partial rendering
Palio Grand Rapids will serve Italian fare from its space in Grand Rapids' Midtown neighborhood. Courtesy Mainstreet Ventures

The former El Barrio Mexican Grill space in town has signed a new tenant.

Come spring, Palio, an Italian restaurant in Ann Arbor, will open its second location in the space in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood, at 545 Michigan St. NE.

Palio is operated by Ann Arbor-based Mainstreet Ventures, which operates 21 restaurants in five states, two of which, The Chop House and the cigar lounge La Dolce Vita, are in Grand Rapids.

Palio will serve pizzas, pastas and other Italian fare in a bright and lively atmosphere.

The restaurant will offer dine in and carryout. It will also feature a full bar.

Palio is undergoing a $400,000 renovation, which is expected to be completed by April.

Michael Gibbons, president and CEO of Mainstreet Ventures, said Palio takes its name from the Palio de Siena, an Italian horse race that is run twice a year.

He said the interior of Palio will include the same colors of the families that participate in the race.

The space will also include a large, 20,000-lb pizza oven that will serve as a focal point of the restaurant and allow guests to see the kitchen at work.

Gibbons said the menu will be somewhat different from the Ann Arbor location and is still being finalized.

He said three garage doors are being added to the location, so in the summer, diners can eat al fresco. The patio space will be slightly expanded from its current boundaries as well to add a bit more outdoor seating.

With the patio seating, Gibbons said Palio will seat up to 200 customers.

There is also a parking lot behind the building with plenty of spots for diners.

Gibbons said Mainstreet Ventures has been keeping an eye on the Grand Rapids market for quite a while, in hopes of adding another restaurant here, and he said the Medical Mile location is a great fit.

He said the goal is to create a neighborhood destination restaurant on the bustling Medical Mile, catering to homeowners and renters as well as city visitors staying at the newly opened Hampton Inn and the area’s many employees.

“I think people are really going to enjoy it,” he said. “It will be a great atmosphere, with a lot of energy. . . . I think it will be a fun place.”

Gibbons also noted The Chop House continues to thrive in Grand Rapids.

“It’s been great,” he said. “We had concerns when other restaurants came in, but it just brought more people to town.”

He said The Chop House remains a “place to go for special occasions,” and he expects Palio to be a local joint people gather at regularly. 

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